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Running away from a stellar field on the streets of Boston, Geoffrey Mutai successfully defended his crown at the 2012 B.A.A. 10K, crossing the finish in 27:29, the fastest 10K run thus far in 2012. In the women's contest, Kim Smith of New Zealand set a new course record in 31:36.
Men's race -
After pushing the pace through two miles in 8:51, Mutai and fellow Kenyan Philip Langat broke away from the rest of the eight-man lead pack. Turning down Bay State Road and running through the picturesque campus of Boston University, Mutai and Langat were pushing together.
"I was very happy when I was running with Geoffrey because I knew we were on course record [pace]," said Langat. "I was trying his pace, and I follow him. When I saw the people cheering outside, I caught the morale to follow him and run a good time."
As the pair approached 5k, Mutai began to separate ever so slightly from the 22-year-old Langat. While competing, Mutai said he had one thing on his mind: to win the race for his daughter, Marieke, whose birthday is this week.
"Last year when I was running here, my baby was born. So when I came back to this race I told my family I am going to try to win in the name of my child," he said this morning.
Rounding the halfway turnaround point in 13:51, Langat had returned to Mutai's shoulder. But that would only last for a brief second.
Before the pair hit four miles, Mutai was alone once again. Running down Commonwealth Avenue, the father of two pushed on, gaining strength from the many competitors running in the opposite direction who offered cheers along the way.
"I hear a lot because they are shouting at me so I push it again," he said. "They remind me of the Boston Marathon."
Through Kenmore Square with a seven second lead on Langat, Mutai still was within range of his 27:19 course record.
"For me, the last kilometre was slow because I lost the motion because I didn't have anyone to pull or anyone to see that I am fighting against," he said. "For me, I was trying to push it. I won only, but I didn't have the time like last year."
With a mixture of a grimace and a smile across his face, Mutai continued down Commonwealth Avenue before passing the Public Garden. Turning onto the finishing straight on Charles Street, no one was in sight.
"I am happy again," the winner said. "I don't know if you know all my happiness when I am in Boston. It is not like other races."
"What is in my mind is this is my home. All of the course records are mine, in the Boston Marathon and the B.A.A. 10K. All of my best times are here in Boston. I am here in Boston! This is my home."
Mutai picked up $5000 for his win. Behind, Philip Langat and Ali Abdosh of Ethiopia would round out the top three in 27:53 and 28:21, respectively. Fourth was Ahmed Baday (28:30) and fifth was Allan Kiprono, 28:37. B.A.A. 5K runner-up Sam Chelanga finished one second behind in sixth.
Smith cruises - Women's race
The elite women stuck together in the early stages of the race, making their way through Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and heading down scenic Commonwealth Avenue. They ran in a tightly bunched pack that included Smith and Ethiopia’s Aheza Kiros.
Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion, and Caroline Kilel, the 2011 Boston Marathon champion and defending B.A.A. 10K champion, were also among the contenders in the early going. They were joined by Kenyan compatriots Jelliah Tinega and Chemtai Rionoukei. The leaders passed the one mile mark in 5:04, with American Lindsey Scherf on their heels.
Smith was content with the relaxed pace in the opening miles. Comparing this year’s race to last year’s, where she placed second in 32:08, Smith said, "Definitely, going out a little easier helped."
Smith and Kiros appeared to be feeding off one another, coming through 5K tied at 15:58. In the fourth mile, Kiros tried to push the pace on Smith, who responded well.
"I kind of just sat in for the first 5K and then Kiros pushed the fourth mile a little bit and I went with her," Smith said. "I thought she was tiring a little bit, so then I surged a little bit and dropped her. I like to run alone and push on, so that kind of suited me."
Once she had room to run alone, Smith never looked back. Finding some daylight, Smith passed the four-mile mark in 20:23, opening a gap on Kiros and Cherop. Behind them, the chase pack strung out. By five miles, Smith opened a 12-second lead on Kiros. With just one kilometre to go, she extended her lead to 15 seconds.
Fueled by the cheers of the crowd, the New Englander could not be denied over the race’s final stages. Smith went on to win convincingly, with a 31:36 course record.
"Being local, I think I knew a lot of people in the race," Smith said with a smile after her victory. "I felt like everyone was kind of cheering for me."
The time was 22 seconds ahead of the previous mark set by Caroline Kilel at the inaugural race last year. Kiros also finished inside of Kilel’s former course record, running 31:57. Cherop rounded out the top three in 32:03.